We’ve shot nearly all our covers for the last four years at Garage Studios. So as former SOURCE photographer and Garage boss Kevin Mason opens Create – his huge, three-studio photography complex – we thought we’d ask him about the art of the cover shoot. Of course we had to ask his creative partner and current cover shooter Kenny Mc Cracken for his take too.
Between you you’ve done more SOURCE covers than anyone else. What makes a good cover?
Kevin: A good cover should want to make you pick the magazine up. It should tell you something, I think, about the magazine or the photographer’s perspective on the person. That’s what I always tried to do anyway.
Kenny: SOURCE has got a monthly theme now so I try to tie that in with the imagery, even if it’s just a tenuous link. I agree with Kev, it should make people want to pick it up. It should be interesting and should be a beautiful image in itself.
Kevin: I think that it should exist separately to the person’s own PR image. Memorable covers to me are ones that you really wouldn’t expect. You should strive for some separation from their image.
Kenny, what’s been your favourite of Kevin’s SOURCE covers?
Kenny: The Gloria Cycles one I was on! I’d be a twat if I said anything else. I really did like it though. The concept of it was really clever – the fake perspective, the white room.
Kevin: I didn’t have anywhere to shoot at the time and I was really, really nervous about doing it, because it was Kenny. All I could come up with was blank ideas and actually that seemed to help me – that I would just white everything out. It wasn’t a massive concept because I didn’t want to do anything about lighting. There were a lot of photographers in that band. I thought they would rip the piss.
How long did you spend painting the room completely white?
Kevin: Me, Matt [Halls] and Sally [Reynolds] painted solidly for five hours but the problem was we hadn’t told anyone. The landlord turned up halfway through and we locked ourselves in the room. He didn’t know until we left and the shoot was done. The person whose bedroom it was was away and when they came back all hell broke loose. But we were finished, so it was fine.
What’s been your favourite of Kenny’s SOURCE shoots?
Kevin: It has to be the last one with Blah Blah Blah. To me, that formation thing, it’s the pinnacle of it, I think. I don’t know where it’s going to go next but that was a really nice concept. Although I really like the florist one with Sophie Madeleine because it looks really elaborate and I know the timescale it occurred in.
Kenny: From arriving, getting the shot to packing down and leaving took 26 minutes. It was one of those ones where I had a really good assistant, Zoe, who knew exactly what I was after and it just happened really easily.
How would you describe Create?
Kevin: It’s a number of things. First and foremost it’s a really high-end studio with the best facilities that we could put into one space in the centre of Brighton. It’s studio hire, equipment hire and training, but it’s also trying to get work and attention for a lot of the photographers that I’ve hung around with for a few years and like what they’re doing. So we’ve launched an agency to cater for as many different budgets as we can. But we’re both aware that we’ve got this amazing space and we know we’ve got to make amazing work.
Create is a huge step up from what Garage Studios was. Did you know it was going to be such a change?
Kevin: I think, yes, to a certain extent. It kinda happened in two or three stages. There was the time when everyone was leaving and studio manager Beth and I had a sit down and said, ‘Should we just kill this off?’ We had no idea at that point where it would go. In terms of the finish and everything, it was never going to be less than this. There was no point in doing a half step. What I wasn’t fully prepared for was the scale of it.
WORDS BY JAMES KENDALL
PHOTO BY JAMES KENDALL AND KENNY MC CRACKEN